Hello, I run a large NES site called NES WORLD, feel free to check it out.
I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions about Color Dreams?
I checked out your site... very nice. It had a very clean professional look and
a lot of interesting information. It's the only site that doesn't slam the
Color Dreams' games (although 95% of them were definitely way below average).
Sure... via e-mail is best.
Ok, here we go... How many people worked for Color Dreams, and who started the company?
As few as 10 and as many as 60. The company was started by Eddy Lin and Dan
Lawton (plus some other shareholders).
Which year was Color Dreams started? (1990?)
What was it like to work for Color Dreams? Did you have an office
where you all worked together? or was Color Dreams only somthing that
existed in a garage somewhere?, if you know what I mean :)
There were actually two offices... the main one in Brea and for a while (90-92)
there was a programmers/artists office in Tustin. In the early days (90-91),
the artists and programmers came in and worked whatever hours they wanted....
usually 4pm - 2am.
What did you use to make the games? I mean, you didn't own an original
NES development kit right?
All of the develpment tools were designed and developed in house by
reverse-engineering the NES.
Why didn't Color Dreams get an official license to develop games for
the NES, it would've made everything a lot easier eh?
Too expensive... too long to get a game out. Color Dreams also produced
unlicensed games for the Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo and GameBoy. Only one
official licensed game was ever produced by Color Dreams. It was Crystal Mines
II for the Atari Lynx handheld game system. The programmer for Crystal Mines I
& II was rumored to port Crystal Mines II for Windows 95 but I don't think it
Is it true that the Hellraiser game was supposed to have
16bit graphics? I know it never was released, but did a prototype of
the game even exist?
I don't know what kind of graphics Hellraiser was supposed to have. The
so-called super cartridge did exist as a prototype piece of hardware but no
games were ever made for it. The Hellraiser rights were purchased in 1990 for
the purpose of making a game. There were regular 8-bit NES graphics and some
levels laid out for an 8-bit Hellraiser but no very much was done and no
cartridge was ever made.
Could you give me some details about Hellraiser? (like which type of
game it was)
See above. The graphics started out gory... and then were changed to comic
since gory doesn't play well with 8-bit graphics. Later, Color Dreams bought
the Wolfenstein engine rights from ID Software and altered the code, made new
levels and really cool graphics for a PC game. The game was too far behind
schedule to complete though. By the time the first test version was ready, Doom
had already come out and the look and feel of the Hellraiser game was soon to
be antiquated. The graphics were really scary though... all the Hellraiser
characters were in it... and you walked around with the Hellraiser cube in your
hand. Another reason the game was abandoned was that the Hellraiser license
expired in December 95 and there was already another company announcing a
CD-ROM game for February.
Do you remember the most successful Color Dreams game? (best seller)
Just guessing here. Captain Comic proabably. I believe it was the first one and
it came out during the peak of NES hysteria.
Which Color Dreams game was your favourite?
Crystal Mines. In my opinion, it was the only game that was given the proper
amount of time spent on it for programming and game/level design. The Crystal
Mines engine was ported to Exodus. Modifications were made and Joshua came out.
Both Exodus and Joshua have arguably better graphics and game play than Crystal
Mines did. The Crystal Mines engine was modified even further to produce
Spiritual Warfare and was modified one final time to produce Bible Buffet. I
think there may have been an Asian version of Crystal Mines that had anime
girls stripping as reward screens.
How many games did you make?
I don't know off-hand... your list seemed pretty complete. There were some
funny prototypes that were never released... one was called Free Fall
(eventually turned into Fish Fall, one of the Wisdom Tree games on Sunday
Funday). There was another one called Maggots. There are a couple of other
games that were fully packaged and ready to be sold that never did... I think
was one called Secret Scout and the Temple of Demise (not sure if it was
released or not). Another one was called Happy Camper.
Why is Saddam's nametag on the box of Secret Storm "Dicktater".? :)
I forgot about that joke.... that's pretty funny. Dictator.
What was the purpose of the Bunch Games label?
From what I understand (I didn't start working at Color Dreams until May 90),
the label was started to sell the games that weren't good enough to be Color
Dreams games, if you can believe that. :-)
Why was Wisdom Tree started?
Rumor has it, the original idea came up as a joke made by one of the
programmers... a few months later it was a reality. A good thing too... the
secular NES market was over-competitive and starting to die out. The Christian
market was a whole new market and Bible Adventures may have been the best
selling game (250,000+).
You must have been inspired by Nintendo's "The Legend of Zelda" when
you decided to make Spiritual Warfare, right?
What made you decide to leave Color Dreams/Wisdom Tree?
Wisdom Tree (or at least the name rights) was purchased last year and is now
headquarted in Arizona... I have no idea what or how they're doing. Color
Dreams last game effort was Hellraiser which never was produced and hasn't done
anything since. StarDot Technologies was born out of the remainder of the Color
Dreams' employees together with new employees and they mainly design,
manufacture and sell digital camera technology.
Nearly all of the Wisdom Tree games were developed from previous game engines.
The Crystal Mines engine and major modifications thereafter were used for
Exodus, Joshua, Spritual Warfare and Bible Buffet. The BOGUS (binary output
game utility system) state machine (engine), which was orginally developed for
one of the Color Dreams games, was used to make Bible Adventures, King of Kings
and Jericho (unreleased). The last Wisdom Tree game, Sunday Funday, was a
direct port (only graphics and reward screens changed) of Menace Beach.
The only Wisdom Tree rarities I know of are the first release of Bible
Adventures which had a black bird bug on the 2nd level of Noah's Ark... it
couldn't be completed and the first release of King of Kings which had
Were are the leftovers from Color Dreams today? (ie prototype
cartridges, game code etc)
There's a lot of interesting tidbits laying around... unfortunately, most of
them accidentally went with Wisdom Tree.
Most of the graphics were made by "Nina". Was that a
nickname for someone or.....?
Nina Bedner... now Nina Stanley did almost all the graphics for the Wisdom Tree
games as well as Menace Beach. She's really good. She's a professional painter
when she's not doing video game artwork. Trivial note: Her father is Owsley
Stanley (Bear), who's quite famous in the LSD / Grateful Dead circles... see
How many Color Dreams and Windom Tree games did you program? Menace Beach, Spiritual
Well since Color Dreams actually did the coding for the Wisdom Tree games (they
came up with the content), I was pretty much involved in all of the Wisdom Tree
games as well as Menace Beach and I did a couple of levels on Perterminator
(absolutely horrible game that was being made when I first started with the
company). I did 1/3 to 1/2 of the levels and character programming on Bible
Adventures, King of Kings, Spirtual Warfare, Exodus, Joshua and Bible Buffet. I
also did all of the music for Super 3-D Noah's Ark (not that it's great or
Did Color Dreams have any relations to the other unlicensed companies
like American Video Entertainment? I mean, did you ever share
information and such?
No... everything was reverse engineered in house by our then and current
resident genius / mad scientist, Dan Lawton.
Are Color Dreams games freeware today? or are they owned by
I believe Color Dreams own all of the games... the people that run Wisdom Tree
only own the name "Wisdom Tree" and the right to sell the games.
Do you remember if Nintendo ever sued Color Dreams for violating
copyrights or something?
You'd had to look through old press reports for that... no one here
remembers... I'm guessing there may have been a threat but no lawsuit ever came
about because we were within our legal rights.
I e-mailed Wisdom Tree about a month ago, asking about their NES
cartridges. It turns out that they still have most Color Dreams carts
in stock and are selling them for like US$10-15 :)
That's funny. No wonder why they snuck them out of the building.
Oh yeah(!) It seems like Color Dreams (only the black cartridges
though) are the only unlicensed games which will work in a European
NES unit without a converter. Did you ever plan on releasing the
games in Europe? (My Menace Beach manual is written in German, French
The program and video chips just need to be put on a newer board that did a
better job of zapping the Nintendo key chip in order to work in Europe. By that
time, Wisdom Tree was successful and the Color Dreams titles were just left for
dead (except for the last one, Menace Beach included).
How did you start working for Color Dreams?
I was working at a TV station in San Antonio, Texas (my degree is in
Radio/TV/Film). An old friend of mine from when I lived in Germany was now
living in Southern California and said he could get me a job at this video game
company he was working for.
He said I would be hired as a manager to supervise
the programmers/artists in the Tustin office to make sure the games got out in
time and the quality was good. He said I had only three days to make up my mind
and be out there. So I left my girlfriend, cat and job all within 3 days and
was out in California. I did not know how and did not want to manage people...
I figured I would get my foot in the door and then work my way into game design
/ programming. As it turned out, my first assignment was to evaluate
Pesterminator and offer suggestions on how to improve it. The game was and is
still just awful... levels were boring, game play was awfull, joystick/here
response was choppy, etc. When I wrote up a long list and told my opinions to
the programmers and artists, they wouldn't even turn to look at me... it was a
really bad experience. Luckily, I was turned into a game designer a couple of
months later and I started Menace Beach (unfortunately with a really bad game
engine / programming language which I pushed to its limits).
Did you program videogames before you started working for Color Dreams? (
if so... for which company for which systems?)
I did game programming back in 82/83 when I was 17/18 years old. The same
friend who got me the job in 90 got me a job back in 83. It was for a company
called Cosmi (later Swift Software) who made disk and cassette-based games for
the Commodore Vic-20 and 64, Atari 400/800 and TI-99 computers. It was back in
the days when one person did the entire game... design, programming, graphics,
levels, music, sounds, etc. I made a game called Slinky for the Atari 400/800
which got ported to the Commodore 64. It was a Q-Bert knock off. I also ported
a Com-64 game called Forbidden Forest for play on the Atari 400/800.
I basically learned 6502 assembly on the job and didn't get the time to develop
any original material. By the time I did, I was completely burned out and too
young to handle living on my own in California, so I moved back to Texas to go
to school and didn't program games again until 1990.
Ok, thats about all I had to ask you about
Now that you're completely bored... :-)
I hope I've answered all of your questions.